– May 12, 2015

Today, the American Institute for Economic Research ranked the American cities that are most attractive to young college graduates, based on eight economic and quality-of-life factors.

In its first annual Employment Destinations Index, AIER research uncovered the eight factors that influenced migration patterns of college grads ages 22-35 among 260 metro areas, large and small. The cities that ranked highest in each size category were Washington, D.C.; the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut area; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Iowa City, Iowa. (See full list below)

The most important factors were, in descending order:

1. A high density of people with a college degree

2. A low unemployment rate

3. The ability to get around without a car

Other factors in the Employment Destinations Index included bars and restaurants per 1,000 residents, as well as earning power, rents, competition for jobs, and ethnic and racial diversity.

“After making the economic decision to move, the young and educated are looking for places where they can have a meaningful work/life balance,” said Rosalind Greenstein, director of research and education at AIER.

The top-ranked major metropolitan area was Washington, which in addition to a wealth of government, professional and technical jobs, features an attractive mix of walking, biking and public transportation for its highly educated populace.

The highest ranking midsize area was Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, where old industrial buildings now serve as work and living spaces in a robust service economy, located an hour and a half from New York City by train.

The top small metro area was beautiful, bikeable Ann Arbor, where the university helped diversify the workforce into high-tech industries as the auto industry faded.

And among the smallest metros, Iowa City, home of the University of Iowa, triumphed on the strength of a growing technology corridor, low rents, lots of restaurants and bars, as well as an increasingly diverse population.

“With the Employment Destinations Index, we identify what captures young people’s imagination and entices them to test the waters in cities large and small,” Greenstein said.

The top metro areas for job seekers in each category are, in descending order:

Major metros (1 million and more residents):

1. Washington

2. San Francisco

3. Boston

4. San Jose, California

5. New York

6. Seattle

7. Denver

8. Austin, Texas

9. Minneapolis-St. Paul

10. Raleigh, North Carolina

11. Baltimore

12. Columbus, Ohio

13. Hartford, Connecticut

14. Chicago

15. Pittsburgh


Midsize metros (500,000-999,999):

1. Bridgeport, Connecticut

2. Honolulu, Hawaii

3. Provo, Utah

4. Albany, New York

5. Portland, Maine

6. Des Moines, Iowa

7. Omaha, Nebraska

8. New Haven, Connecticut

9. Colorado Springs, Colorado

10. Charleston, South Carolina

11. Worcester, Massachusetts

12. Grand Rapids, Michigan

13. Syracuse, New York

14. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

15. Ogden, Utah


Small metros (250,000-499,999):

1. Ann Arbor, Michigan

2. Fort Collins, Colorado

3. Gainesville, Florida

4. Lincoln, Nebraska

5. Trenton, New Jersey

6. Santa Cruz, California

7. San Luis Obispo, California

8. Bremerton, Washington

9. Manchester, New Hampshire

10. Santa Barbara, California

11. Fayetteville, Arkansas

12. Norwich, Connecticut

13. Huntsville, Alabama

14. Anchorage, Alaska

15. Wilmington, North Carolina


Smallest metros (Below 250,000):

1. Iowa City, Iowa

2. Ithaca, New York

3. Lawrence, Kansas

4. Champaign-Urbana, Illinois

5. Bloomington, Indiana

6. Columbia, Missouri

7. Bloomington, Illinois

8. Burlington, Vermont

9. State College, Pennsylvania

10. College Station, Texas

11. Lafayette, Indiana

12. Barnstable, Massachusetts

13. Ocean City, New Jersey

14. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

15. Santa Fe, New Mexico

16. Auburn, Alabama

17. Flagstaff, Arizona

18. Pittsfield, Massachusetts

19. Springfield, Illinois

20. Blacksburg, Virginia

21. Bismarck, North Dakota

22. Bend, Oregon

23. Bellingham, Washington

24. Morgantown, West Virginia

25. La Crosse, Wisconsin

26. Midland, Texas

27. Eau Claire, Wisconsin

28. Napa, California

29. Oshkosh, Wisconsin

30. St. George, Utah

To view the detailed list of the 75 best metro areas for job seekers, and how they performed in each of the eight factors, see the brochure at www.aier.org/edi.

Aaron Nathans

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